UK - The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames is  seeking a global custodian for its pension fund, less than a week after starting a search for at least four new investment managers.

A tender notice issued by Kingston revealed it is offering a contract for the provision of global custody, accounting and administration services for its £330m (€415m) pension fund.

Custody services for the pension scheme are currently provided by JP Morgan Chase. However, Kingston is now re-tendering the contract for an initial five-year period, with the option of a further five-year extension, albeit with a review of performance after the first three years.

The pension fund's latest available annual report, for 2006/07, confirmed that as the existing global custodian JP Morgan Chase is responsible for accounting for and the safekeeping of the fund's assets and reconciling all accounts, while also managing and investing the cash held in the pension fund.

Kingston's search for a global custodian follows the council's recent decision to restructure the fund's investment portfolio to move from a largely passive management approach to a more active strategy. [See earlier article: Kingston restructures 'inefficient' portfolio]

Until recently, Kingston's pension fund invested 70% of assets on a passive basis through UBS Global Asset Management, and the remaining 30% invested in an active global equity mandate run by Capital International.

But following the termination of Capital's mandate in May 2007, all of the scheme's assets were transferred to the temporary management of UBS, while the pension fund commissioned an investment review that has now led to the restructuring of the whole portfolio.

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